Top 4 Trends That Are Changing Oncology Practices

As the cancer care landscape evolves, employers are scrambling to keep up. Advancements in precision medicine, evolving oncology payment models, and a growing culture of support in the workplace are all changing the face of oncology. These trends will impact patient care, the work environment, and cost-effectiveness.

Improved access to sequencing

Increasingly, oncologists are offering tumor multigene next-generation sequencing (NGS) to their cancer patients, allowing them to take advantage of more personalized therapies and clinical trials. However, access to these tests is not uniform across Europe. To overcome this problem, multistakeholder collaboration is needed. One such group is the European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM), comprised of key stakeholders from ten European countries.

Access to sequencing-matched therapies is still limited for patients outside of research studies. However, insurance companies now cover companion diagnostic DNA tests, which can help determine which treatments suit each patient. In addition, insurance reimbursement for NGS technologies is inconsistent and limited. For example, whole-exome and genome sequencing provide information on broader gene sets, but the cost of these tests is prohibitive for patients without insurance.

Improved access to sequencing in oncology can improve patient care by enabling doctors to diagnose and treat cancer at a much earlier stage. Moreover, it opens new opportunities for researchers. In addition to identifying the causes of various types of cancer, NGS can also identify genetic variants that are unknown or unrecognized.

Improved integration with electronic medical records

Improved integration with electronic medical records (EMRs) in oncology practices offers many benefits. Among these are better patient care, reduced physician-patient visits, and streamlined chart maintenance and payer documentation. It also helps to improve coding accuracy and safety of care.

To address these concerns, some hospitals have started using EMRs. One example is a Montreal hospital, which opened an ambulatory care center with a medical oncology department, pharmacy services specializing in chemotherapy, and a radiation oncology department with four linear accelerators. The new hospital wanted to improve the quality of integrated cancer care. To do so, it invested heavily in EMR software. However, integration of EMR data across workflows was still limited.

In the United States, the “All of Us” program aims to integrate a variety of patient records into one patient file. However, this system is limited in linking to public administrative data sources. This limits its usefulness to long-term research on social factors contributing to cancer progression. In addition, it is prohibitively expensive for small oncology practices to implement the software. Furthermore, the platform’s functionality depends on the host EHR.

Cell and gene therapies

The cell and gene therapy market represents an opportunity to treat previously incurable and devastating cancers. But there are several challenges. For example, regulatory perspectives vary by region, affecting success rates and duration of treatment. In addition, patient prevalence varies considerably by region. In the U.S., for example, beta-thalassemia and SCD are rarer in the north than in the south. Additionally, the costs associated with these therapies are significantly different in different countries. That makes it essential to develop new reimbursement models to support the use of these therapies.

However, this approach is not enough to ensure widespread adoption. For instance, manufacturers must work collaboratively to ensure consistent quality control of incoming materials and collect widespread patient safety data. Furthermore, they must establish new support models for physicians and patients and collaborate with regulators to rewrite the rules. In addition, manufacturers should engage cross-functional teams early in development to ensure fast, cost-efficient processes. Finally, they must collaborate with payers and systems to ensure patient safety and quality.

Gene therapies have the potential to fix mutated genes and switch on healthy genes that prevent disease. Furthermore, they may be able to make diseased cells more visible to the immune system. This may help patients fight cancer with just one or two treatments. However, Gene therapy also has risks. Because genes are difficult to deliver into cells, a carrier is needed.

Cost-effectiveness of cancer treatment

As cancer patients live longer, the cost of cancer care is growing. According to the National Institutes of Health, more than $89 billion was spent in 2007 on cancer care. This figure does not include the indirect costs of cancer, such as lost productivity and death.

To improve cost-effective care, practitioners and payers should align incentives. This will enable them to share savings with patients. They should also reward high-quality providers with differential reimbursement rates. For example, a cancer care practice should have a comprehensive cancer care program to serve patients and their families.

Cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide. Nearly 10 million people will die from cancer in 2020. Fortunately, many of these deaths can be prevented. With proper screening and early diagnosis, many cancers have a high chance of being cured.

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